I looked up from my newspaper and saw Mike Webb.
He was striding down the hallway wearing shades like a gangster, and he was not happy.
Then I saw Jeff DeWolf, a local freelance photographer with his camera to his face pointing it at Webb in the crowded hallway.
Almost at the same time, Webb crossed behind his attorney, Mark Larranaga and lunged at DeWolf. As he struck Jeff in his face and shoulder with a one-two, Jeff stumbled back, with a woof and Larranaga, yelled, "Mike!" and pulled him on down the hall and into the courtroom.
The hallway was full of attorneys and clients, family members. They were startled by the disturbance and a few shouted out. DeWolf, shaken, yelled out, "Hey Mike!"
Webb's gained quite a bit of weight since I'd seen him last. He was wearing a dark, bulky, unseasonal jacket and his bushy 1970's mustache framed that frown. He and Larranaga were going to his omnibus hearing to turn in agreed-upon paperwork for his trial upcoming on July 12 at the King County Courthouse in E 847, where Judge Helen Halpert presides over a daily calendar of felony cases.
(Webb was charged with felony insurance fraud and fired from his longtime KIRO radio talk job after he was arrested in December on fraud charges. Police and prosecutors say he tried to claim damages from an accident he had with an uninsured driver on a Geico insurance policy he bought after the accident. He's pleading not guilty).
In the courtroom after the attack, Webb sat by himself on the end of a wooden bench visibly fuming as his attorney dealt with the court. I was so close I could smell his cologne.
Jeff DeWolf went down to security to report the attack, and police were called.
Their business finished, Webb and Larranaga left the court room, took the elevator to the lobby level and left through the tunnel leading the two blocks beneath the Courthouse and took an elevator to 5th Ave., thus avoiding the scene with DeWolf and the cops at the 3rd Street entrance.
This "Sean Penn & the paparazzi" act of Webb's was transrational. There's no reasonable justification for him to assault someone in a courthouse hallway- although he's got some nutty excuses on his website.
Mike Webb just went nuts, he saw red, he lost it. There was no thought process involved except deep in the dank interstices of his lizard brain. He struck out and damn the consequences.
Webb is disturbed, true, but he also vividly displays the characteristics and symptoms of what Alcoholic Anonymous calls a "dry drunk." He has said publicly he's had problems with alcohol or other substances.
A dry drunk is the name for some fairly specific attitudes and behaviors typical around non-drinking or non-using, but untreated addiction. It's in vogue to accuse George W. Bush of being a dry drunk, but we probably can't get close enough to his personal life to really make that judgment. Mike Webb's symptoms, on the other hand, have been very publicly displayed in actions and statements that make the papers, and in his broadcasting on the intimate medium that is radio.
Webb broadcasts a live stream on his website nearly every night. He has guests over whom he gushes- chosen, no doubt because they agree with him. He takes no callers. It's a rambling 2 hours in which he posits and rants; makes jokes, laughs at them himself; slaughters his enemies and in general, explains himself. In the end, the topic is himself. There's no one to challenge him.
What a racket, eh? But unfortunately, it's not working out for him, as his irrational actions on Friday generously demonstrate.
Typical signs of a dry drunk are:
• acting self-important, either by “having all the answers,” or playing “poor me.”
• making harsh judgments of oneself and others.
• being impatient or pursuing whims.
• blaming others for shortcomings one suspects in oneself.
• being dishonest, usually beginning with little things.
• impulsive behavior which ignores what’s best for oneself and others.
• inability to make decisions.
• mood swings, trouble with expressing emotions, feeling unsatisfied.
• detachment, self-absorption, boredom, distraction or disorganization.
• nostalgia for the drinking life.
• fantasizing, daydreaming and wishful thinking or euphoria.
• less participation in a 12-step program or dropping out altogether.
Sound like anyone you know?
Read everything you'll ever wanna know about Mike Webb:
BREAKING: KIRO TALK HOST MIKE WEBB CHARGED WITH INSURANCE FRAUD
A tangled webb: the seattle police's case against mike webb
Hackers? police conspiracy? yeah, that's it...
Mike webb's attorney no stranger to "dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation."
Mike webb, 1995-2005 R.I.P.
Mike webb speaks
Ten easy things mike webb can do to keep from going postal